Bedstock Returns! Decemberists Talk Cancer-Fighting Virtual Fest's Second Year
So far, this year's lineup includes the Decemberists, Dillon Francis, Børns, Jim James, Sevyn Streeter, X Ambassadors, and Lucius.
Bedstock debuted last year, and it’s already -- quite possibly -- the world’s most charitable music festival. Today (Nov. 20), Billboard is thrilled to announce the cancer-fighting online endeavor is returning for a second year.
That’s the Decemberists up above, performing on a trio of army cots purchased at a Portland, Ore. discount shop to mimic their earlier days, when the look was more out of necessity. But there’s still a very good reason Bedstock’s musicians perform the way they do. According to Children's Cancer Association founder Regina Ellis, more than ten million U.S. kids are fighting a life-threatening illness, and she witnessed firsthand how music eases the pain.
“What if artists were singing in their beds while people were waking up, listening to music, and thinking about what kids are experiencing?” Ellis explains to Billboard. Through its flagship program MyMusicRx, the Children’s Cancer Association (founded in 1995) pumps life into Bedstock the way Ellis watched bedside music comfort her daughter Alexandra. She lost her battle at just five, but Ellis and her resplendent team vowed to fight on. For 20 years, MyMusicRx has helped bring “music medicine” to hospitalized children, both through in-person hospital visits and via 24/7 virtual access to MyMusicRx.org.
On Dec. 1, the Decemberists will be joined by Dillon Francis, Børns, Jim James, Sevyn Streeter, X Ambassadors, and Lucius in providing much-needed awareness-raising entertainment for these children. After their respective videos go live on the day dubbed "Giving Tuesday" (to offset the consumption of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday) fans will be able to stream them on-demand from their beds, or whenever inspiration strikes. For a sampling of the forthcoming rollout, check out Bedstock’s 2014 archives, featuring Chromeo, Passion Pit, JoJo, and more.
Here's Chromeo playing "Come Alive" last year:
MyMusicRx has brand partnerships with the likes of Nike, Stumptown, Atlantic, Ace Hotel, Converse, Cornerstone, and Fader, which has hosted acoustic benefits for the cause at its annual SXSW and CMJ Fader Fort events. In fact, the Bedstock cause is of personal significance to Fader co-founder and MyMusicRx board member Rob Stone -- who survived Hodgkin’s Disease after being diagnosed as an otherwise-healthy 20-year-old college student.
“I was blessed and I was lucky to be able to overcome it,” he tells Billboard. “A lot of that was through music. It was Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J that would get me through my mornings of radiation treatment. I kept my spirit alive, the fire in me. The first time I spoke about it, I addressed it to the Fader Fort audience and Regina helped me through the speech. It was obviously emotional for me, but since then I’ve spoken about it 20, 30 times in public and become a big advocate.”
Decemberists multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk also admits Bedstock touches a personal nerve -- bandmate Jenny Conlee recently defeated breast cancer. “It does [matter to her]” he says, and also her parents. "The program’s focus is on children and children’s families. As an artist, if you make a living doing this, you should pick one thing, one charity, and give back somehow. For me this charity was my focus.”
To support the work of Funk, Stone, Ellis, and the rest of the MyMusicRx effort, head over to Bedstock’s official site, and get ready for new performances on Dec. 1. Watching -- and perhaps donating -- from the comfort of your bed is not mandatory, but is encouraged.